Sarnia Police are responding to numerous complaints about people causing problems at ‘The Cove,’ the sheltered inlet at the west end of Canatara Park.
During one “targeted enforcement response” in late June officers issues 12 provincial offence tickets for violations that included public intoxication, trespassing, noise and drug use.
Days later, on the morning after Canada Day, Sarnia photographer Ryan Farr rose early to take sunrise photos at The Cove.
He arrived at 5:30 a.m. and was so surprised by the garbage strewn across the sand he posted a photo on social media. It was widely shared with hundreds of local residents who expressed disgust and disappointment.
“It was always my favourite beach to go to. People have no respect,” said one woman.
“Terrible what this beautiful beach has become,” wrote another. “Garbage all over…boats almost to the shore so you cannot swim…drugs and alcohol running rampant…sure not the beach I knew when we were kids.”
By 7 a.m. the following morning a city employee was at The Cove picking up garbage and emptying several garbage cans by the beach, Farr said.
“Those city maintenance workers deserve a lot of credit.”
Regulars who use the beach for sunbathing and swimming said it is generally clean but gets busier and trashier after the high schools let out for summer.
“The people who come all the time respect the beach,” said one man. “We have a beach rule to pick up three pieces of garbage before you leave.”
But police are concerned about more than garbage and will have a heavy presence at The Cove this summer to deter criminal and nuisance activity, said Const. Nelson Amaral.
The Cove is public property within the City of Sarnia. But it’s close to Point Edward and generations of villagers have made it a tradition to use the beach there, said Mayor Bev Hand.
“It used to be the perfect spot with beautiful sand and calm water,” she said. “We swam there and had a good time when I was younger. We had fun but we didn’t cause any trouble.”
The mayor said she’s getting requests to do something about the noise and intoxication this summer.
“I’m particularly concerned about the number of boats in The Cove that are coming too close to where the kids swim,” Hand said. “It’s an accident waiting to happen.”
She said she intends to talk to Point Edward OPP about co-ordinating with the ongoing effort by Sarnia Police.